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Simon Singh reopens the mathematical issue that was bombarded with solutions and opinions with a fresh insight.
The mysterious note that corresponds to the problem was written in Latin. It claims that the author of the note has a superb demonstration to solve the problem. Finally, the problem gets solved at the end of the twentieth century. But, the solution is not any clearer. Full of equations, symbols and tough-to-crack mathematical language, the solution makes even the expert mathematicians rack their brains.
There were two people who had the key to the problem. Pierre De Fermat who was a 17th century judge and an amateur mathematician had proofs to solve the problem. But public-shy Fermat didn’t publish those proofs. So though he was a math whiz who discovered many epochal theorems and math logic, Fermat remained unrecognised till his death. Similarly Andrew Wiles, another expert mathematician who found the solution twenty years ago kept it away from the public eye too.
However, for understanding Fermat’s original theorem and Wiles’ solution, you have to know about prime numbers, negative numbers, irrational numbers, imaginary numbers and the concepts of infinity and zero. Even calculus and probability theorems have to be touched upon. Alongside, Singh also reveals ways to challenge mathematical proofs and establishes the difference between proofs in scientific and mathematical contexts.
The theorem has challenged the skills of many an experts like Kurt Godel, Alan Turing, David Hilbert, and G. H. Hardy. Simon Singh delves deeper and takes us through an enthralling journey in mathematical history. Singh’s journey spans 26 centuries, unearthing a wealth of information. He reintroduces number theory for newcomers.
The book was a rehash of the BBC Horizon film and was published in 1997.
About Simon Singh
Simon Singh is the author of many mathematical and scientific books.
The Code Book, Big Bang, and Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial are some of the other books written by Singh.
Singh grew up in Somerset, Wellington, and went to college in London. He has a Ph.D in Particle Physics from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was previously a director and producer at the Science and Features Department of the BBC. He was given an MBE in 2003 and has also been awarded many honorary degrees.